Published on Fri, May 1, 2020
By: Stuart Rowlands
How a Jewish driver, an American heiress, and a legendary car beat Hitler’s best..LACar.com QUICK REVIEWFASTERby Neil BascomFormat:HardcoverLanguage:EnglishISBN:1328489876ISBN13:9781328489876Release Date:March 2020Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing CompanyLength:368 PagesWeight:1.50 lbs.Dimensions:1.2″ x 6.0″ x 9.0″
I must admit that I was looking forward to reading Neal Bascomb’s latest literary effort: ‘Faster.’ He is normally a master storyteller with a keen eye for detail and weaving personalities deftly through the perils they face.
In ‘Faster’ I found myself struggling a bit from the onset to fully care about the various protagonists and their problems. And, for almost the first 50 percent of the book, I couldn’t understand exactly why I felt this way.
It really wasn’t until Chapter 9 that my pulse began to race and I had some difficulty trying to put this book down. Rene Dreyfus came alive for me in those pages as he hadn’t ever before.
In retrospect, I think that ‘the devil wasn’t in the details’ here but in the lack of them. I found myself looking for a map of Europe showing the starting points and routes of the various Monte Carlo Rallies.
And, I would have liked a second map showing me where each race team was located so as to bring Talbot, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes, Auto Union, Bugatti, and of course, Delahaye all into closer focus.
But … by Page 160 the book became personal and I devoured Dreyfus’ titanic struggle with Adolf Hitler’s Silver Arrows.
I must admit we are going through some strange times at the moment especially with the coronavirus shutdowns and the current rise of racial tensions so I might well be reading too much into this story and over-imagining the fears that sometimes seem threatening to overwhelm us all of late.
In all fairness, liked this book a lot and would definitely recommend it to my friends and colleagues – I just wish it had captured me a few laps sooner. –SR
Reviewer’s note: As soon as conditions permit I will head north out of LA for Oxnard and the Mullin Automotive Museum – I cannot wait to see the Delahaye in all its glory.
When the Germans overran France, Dreyfus was in the United States, and wisely stayed there, eventually enlisting in the US Army. Following the war, he and his brother Maurice opened Le Gourmet, a French restaurant in 1946. They sold that restaurant and opened Le Chanteclair at 18 East 49th Street in midtown Manhattan, directly between Rockefeller Center and the Waldorf-Astoria. It became the de facto headquarters of automobile racing culture east of the Mississippi. On any given night, you’d be shown to your table by a man who had once beaten the Bugatti factory team in his own car by 22 seconds. At the next table, you might see Stirling Moss or find Phil Hill at the bar. In a time when top-level professional race car drivers are as isolated as Hollywood stars, it’s incredible to think that anyone with enough scratch to buy a drink at the bar could hobnob with the greatest racing drivers in history. (from MOTOR1.com)
Above: perhaps the most-stolen New York restaurant ashtray ever …